Headlines Cont. – 10/21/2005

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 21, 2005

The Panolian: INSIDE STORIES – October 21, 2005


Halloween night curfews announced
By Jason C. Mattox

On a night when ghouls and ghosts will roam the streets, local law enforcement wants to be sure there are more treats than tricks.

During recent municipal board meetings Panola’s cities and towns set their curfew for Monday, Oct. 31? Halloween.

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Sardis Police Chief Mike Davis asked for and received a 9 p.m. curfew. Como also set its curfew at 9 p.m.

"From what I understand, we have not had that many problems because most trick-or-treaters are off the streets before 9 p.m.," he said.

In Batesville, the Board of Aldermen agreed to set the curfew at 10 p.m. at the request of Police Chief Gerald Legge.

"In recent years we haven’t received a lot of calls," Legge said. "We are hoping this will continue this Halloween."

Changes to city’s sick day policy possible
By Jason C. Mattox

An outstanding number of absences in the Batesville Street Department could lead to a revision of the city’s sick day policy.

During Tuesday’s meeting the mayor and board of aldermen, Street Department Superintendent Teddy Austin told city leaders he continues to have problems with attendance.

"I can’t ever recall a week when I have had every member of my crew all week long," he said.

Austin said he has some employees who miss at least once a week when there is a lot of work to be done.

Ward 4 Alderman Bobbie Jean Pounders said something needed to be done so work can get finished in a timely manner.

"Teddy needs to know how many people are going to show up on any given day," she said. "We have got to come up with some way of stopping people from taking advantage of their sick days."

Ward 3 Alderman James Yelton said he believed the city needed to look at potential changes to the sick day policy.

"We need to find a way to resolve this absentee problem," he said.

Ward 2 Alderman Rufus Manley suggested a stricter policy that would require absentees to have a doctor’s excuse for every hour of work they miss.

"We need to take a close look at our policy," he said. "The federal government says if a person is abusing their leave, they can be required to furnish a doctor’s excuse for every hour they miss."

Ward 1 Alderman Bill Dugger said that kind of a change might be too harsh, but agreed something needed to be done.

"What I think is odd is a person that misses one day," he said. "Most people who are truly sick will miss more than one day."

Yelton suggested making a person who misses one day use a leave day unless a doctor’s excuse is furnished.

"I think that might be a good way to have people stop abusing our policy," he said.

Alderman-at-Large Teddy Morrow asked Austin his opinion of the city’s existing policy which only requires a doctor’s excuse if a person misses two or more days of work.

"I think the policy we have is working out fine," Austin said. "There are just some people who are abusing it."

The superintendent said he has already started "writing up" people who are habitually absent from work.

"I know which people are abusing the policy and which ones aren’t," he said. "So I am going to write them up, and if it continues, I will bring them before the board."

Manley asked Austin if he was keeping a file of employees who were constantly taking sick days.

"It shows up on the time cards, but I don’t keep a separate file," he said. "I turn in sick and vacation time, and the payroll clerk keeps up with it."

The aldermen asked assistant city attorney Colmon Mitchell to examine the existing policy and come up with some suggestions for improvements.

"I know I can come up with something," he said. "We just want to make sure what we settle on is legal."

The board took no action on the matter. It is expected to be discussed again in the near future.

     The ribbon was cut Tuesday to officially open the new Workforce Development Center, a training facility operated by Northwest Community College in the Batesville Enterprise Center on Nosef Drive. The center’s computer lab supports business and industry by making training available at a convenient location, according to David Bledsoe, director of Workforce Development and Community Service. Classes held at the lab so far have included ServSafe training for food service facilities, computer software classes, Spanish classes and a leadership course.
City looking for ways to solve caving problem at Batesville Civic Center
By Jason C. Mattox

Caving near the southeast corner of the Batesville Civic Center was discussed during last Tuesday’s meeting of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen.

Ward 3 Alderman James Yelton said the city needed to do something fast to resolve the problems that are causing that area to cave in.

BCC Director Roy Hyde said the problem could stem from "voids" below the asphalt.

"It looks like the problem could be coming from a leak in the sewer line or in the irrigation system that is causing voids below the surface," he said. "The engineers are taking core samples hoping to find a solution."

Street Department Superintendent Teddy Austin said it might be necessary to remove portions of the asphalt to resolve the problem.

McBride Engineering representative Blake Mendrop said there might be other ways to resolve the problem.

"It is possible that we can dig in a few areas, let the wet parts dry out and then fill the voids with grout," he said. "That might be a viable solution."

Mendrop explained that if the valve to the irrigation system is turned off, the lack of water will make it possible for the pressure grouting to fill all of the cracks.

"We do know there is a need to get rid of the wet and damaged materials," he said. "We want to make sure this will not happen again."

Hyde said he has contacted civic center contractor PSC in regards to the potential problem with the irrigation system.

"PSC is going to give the subcontractor enough time to rectify the situation," he said. "If they do not do so, PSC will hire another subcontractor to do the work."

Board members instructed assistant city attorney Colmon Mitchell to draft a letter detailing the situation to PSC.

"We just need to make sure that PSC is on notice," Yelton said. "Their one year warranty will be up in November."

In other board business:
Aldermen voted to move forward with an emergency purchase of a new pump and upgrades to the pumping station at the city’s treatment plant.
A conditional use permit was granted to the Batesville Kiwanis Club for use of the old South Panola practice field to hold a circus.
Bids for professional services regarding a CDBG grant were opened and taken under advisement.
Aldermen voted unanimously to allow Andy Berryhill to take the residential mechanical and residential electrical inspectors exam with expenses paid by the city.
Approved the hiring of James McCullar as a full-time firefighter effective Nov. 1 . Also voted to allow McCullar to attend Mississippi Fire Academy Training from Oct. 24- Dec. 9 with expenses paid by the city.
Aldermen voted to allow firefighters Brett Childs and Travis Inman to attend the Smoke Diver Course at the Mississippi Fire Academy Oct. 31 through Nov. 4, with expenses paid by the city.
Halloween night curfews announced
By Rita Howell

A "reunion" of sorts is being planned at Batesville First Baptist Church for all Hurricane Katrina evacuees who stayed at the shelter there and all volunteers who worked at the shelter which operated from August 29-September 6.

A pot-luck supper is scheduled for Thursday, October 27 at 6 p.m. in the church’s family life center.

At one point in the aftermath of the hurricane, there were more than 100 people staying at the shelter, according to Myra Simmons, who is helping organize the pot-luck supper. Many have gone on, but some have stayed to make their home in this community, she said.

"Some of them didn’t have anything to go back to,"she said.

Simmons couldn’t estimate how many local churches supplied volunteers and meals at the shelter, but stressed that anyone who had helped is invited to next week’s get-together.

"Some of them haven’t seen each other since the shelter closed," Simmons said. "They had gotten to be friends with each other. We just want to give everybody a chance to get together again and visit."



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